Thursday, April 11, 2013

STEM Friday: Flowers By Number

Flowers By Number
written by David Shapiro; illustrated by Hayley Vair
2013 (Craigmore Creations)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

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For a book about flowers and numbers, it's ironic that my favorite page contains no flowers and the number zero. The text on the beginning page just cracks me up every time I read it. Opposite an illustration of a snow covered wooded area surrounding a pond, we find these words:

It is the middle of winter and a blanket of snow covers the land. There are ZERO flowers out for now.

What follows are ten two-page spreads featuring descriptions of flowers, their scientific name, and attractive illustrations. I like the variety of flowers in this book. The first flower is skunk cabbage. Other flowers include prickly pear cactus, salmonberry, and Pacific starflower. There are some familiar flowers like lupine and yarrow, but also many species that most readers may not recognize. Another aspect of the text is the use of figurative language like similes. Yarrow stands tall "like soldiers of summer." The lupine "howl in purple." In the back of the book, the flowers are reviewed in a pictograph manner which would be great to show during a math lesson on data. One minor suggestion would be to add a section to the back matter that gives more information about each of the flowers. I can see where the author might have decided to eschew this since it is a counting book for the youngest readers.

I think Flowers By Number would be a terrific text to use if you wanted to create a similar counting book. In my area of the world, we could draw pictures of daffodils, forsythia bushes, azalea bushes, and dogwood trees. I think a few walks outside in May would yield enough information to accomplish this task. If your school is not surrounded by plants, you could ask students to take pictures and have families email those to you to create a PowerPoint. Below is a sample spread from the book.

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